Gate Dispute at the Green

Irongate - Sandymount

On Monday October 7th Dublin City Council workers arrived and cut the gate away from the south east length of the wrought iron railings that surround Sandymount Green.

An impromptu protest established itself as word spread about the action. Previously, Sandymount Tidy Towns Association (STTA) had been engaged in negotiations, involving local Council representatives and the Parks Division, about the preservation and maintenance of the railings and the gates.

Joe McCarthy, of the Tidy Towns Committee, explained that the wrought iron railings surrounding the green are “around 200 hundred years old. Wrought iron like this is no longer mass-manufactured, so the railings and gates of the Green are of considerable worth in their own right. They are antiques.”

Council representatives removed the gate as the culmination of an agenda based on health and safety concerns. The heavy iron gates were considered a risk: heavy and difficult to open and close. The Council proposed to replace all the gates with steel replicas, on a spring-loaded hinge for automatic closing.

STTA decided to mount their own programme of research, contacting the Bushy Park Ironworks, an artisan blacksmiths, who consulted on restoration and preservation provisions. STTA submitted a report to Parks and Recreation in April of this year, asserting among other things that the sprung-hinge steel gates were impractical for the elderly or the disabled and potentially dangerous to children. Instead, a restoration and upgrade was proposed, at an approximate cost of €30,000 to €40,000. STTA offered to raise half of this cost themselves.

In light of these negotiations, the decision to forcibly remove the gates without reaching agreement is seen by locals who were in attendance as running roughshod over the wishes of the community. Also present was Labour Councillor Maria Parodi, who explained that to the best of her knowledge, the matter had not been brought before South East City Council for debate.

The risk on the day was the fate of the severed gate. Left chained to the railings, it was at risk from any opportunistic metal thieves. A local business offered to house the gate for safekeeping. Following extensive outreach to inform councillors, the gate was restored to its position on Thursday 10th.

The Tidy Towns Committee intend to pursue the matter under the European Commission’s Arrhus Convention, which states an unincorporated body can challenge a governing body in court over their right to participate in their local environment.

Pictured: Impromptu protest at Sandymount Green. Image courtesy Esmonde Kelly.

By Rúairí Conneely